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Ang Jones

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Reply with quote  #16 
Thanks from me too Woodstock! I REALLY LOVE IT! It fits together so naturally.
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HAL2591

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Reply with quote  #17 
Skootz, I can't believe that had never crossed my mind! I definitely hear the resemblance between the two.
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Gretchen

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Reply with quote  #18 
This is outstanding, Woodstock!
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guitarfool2002

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Reply with quote  #19 
Excellent piece, HAL, and a great thread overall! Definitely, absolutely an album worth a revisit and even a re-evaluation.

What I like about this even as a concept is the chance to have a composer like Brian who is in the elite pantheon of the best composers of the 20th century (and beyond) able to pay tribute and give a tip of the hat to one of *his* primary influences going back to when he was a child. Brian has a very identifiable and unique sound in his original music, whether it be the chord structures and the melodies or even something Gershwin never really had a chance to exploit: The textures of his recordings as produced in the studio. Gershwin was still of the era where the song could be presented and arranged as a live performance, and of the era where sheet music sales of the current week's popular songs almost equaled record sales. There was that somewhat lost tradition of "parlor music", where families, neighbors, and whoever else wanted to join in would gather with their instruments and play music together, most often using the sheet music of the songs that they'd buy at the music shops (or even order by mail).

Gershwin's music was quite often left open to interpretation by whichever artist decided to perform it. So you have the notion of the "Great American Songbook" being performed and interpreted by everyone from Sinatra to Ella to Fred and Ginger. It was a different notion of delivering music of the day.

In Brian's day, the definitive version of his songs was, without doubt, mostly found on the records he'd release with the Beach Boys. Unlike the Great American Songbook, which especially in jazz the songs were often radically reworked and reshaped to the point where the verse was cut out and left off subsequent versions, or a singer like Sinatra phrased it in some way that became *the* definitive version that others would cover...A song like Wouldn't It Be Nice exists as one definitive version, and as the most honest way of performing it. That version exists on Pet Sounds. How much can a cover version that followed improve on or change such an original? It really can't. The best artists can do is put their own personal feelings and style into a cover, but it will never, ever replace that original record.

Having the opportunity to hear an artist like Brian who took so much influence and knowledge from this music of Gershwin put his own stamp on it and release his own tribute to that music with his own "sound" which we all know and love...I'll just say it works so well to bring the composer who lived and thrived in the studio age where the hit record was the definitive version together with the songs from an era where sheet music and live performance could rework a song however the performer read the notes on the page.

I loved the album from the title alone "Re-Imagines Gershwin". That said it all. And what I enjoy too is you can hear in the music the absolute care and respect which went into making it. A lot of tribute albums (even those done for Brian) can feel like the artist was "assigned" a given track to cover because someone else had already agreed to cover something else...in this album, you get the feeling Brian wanted to get this one just right, and pay respect to the man whose compositions inspired him even as a toddler.

In that way, this album really shines. It is not often, unfortunately, that you have the chance to hear a living legend of a songwriter like Brian devote a full album to paying tribute to a primary influence.

It's as much Brian saying to his fans "This is the composer whose music inspired me, have a listen to his work..." as it is Brian saying to Gershwin "Thank you for inspiring me, I want to offer my best effort in doing these songs my way, and paying tribute to the music that got me started..."

Full circle.




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Debbie KL

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Reply with quote  #20 
GF - Thanks for bringing up the obvious that I forgot to mention - the title was perfect.

This is another work where I had trouble picking a favorite.  Obviously, Brian's stacked vocals on "Rhapsody in Blue" that ran as a thread through the album was just stunning.  The rest was a Brian Wilson album with all its different styles addressing the same composer.  And of course, Gershwin was also a master of blending styles, from South Carolina church gospels, to jazz, to classical, as HAL mentioned.

So it's like picking a favorite from NPP - it depends on the mood.  "It Ain't Necessarily So," is probably my favorite Gershwin work aside from "Rhapsody..." and "American in Paris," so of course that gets me every time.

I will mention that I'm so glad that Brian had Taylor Mills in the band at the time of this recording.  I think her vocals are a real asset to this work.  Her voice is perfect for Gershwin and it's obvious Brian knew that.  She has a truly important part in those harmonies.

I still have a writing deadline before I can "re-review" BWRG, but will get to it soon.
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Ang Jones

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Reply with quote  #21 
On the subject of American in Paris, Brian's Saturday Morning in the City SO reminds me of the title track to AIP. You can see exactly where the influence for Saturday Morning originated.

Hard to pick a favourite from BWRG. I love the way that Brian made Summertime almost ghostly - Summertime has been covered so often that it must have been a challenge to find a different way of doing it. 

I think I'd go with Brian. I Loves You Porgy - brilliant and even thinking about it means it will be stuck in my head for some time to come! But Rhapsody in Blue..... I loved this long before I knew anything about Brian Wilson and it is a circular thing - had I not heard and appreciated Gershwin, would I ever have appreciated Brian Wilson's music? Gershwin laid the groundwork for my love of Brian's music, just as Gershwin inspired Brian.
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kds

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Reply with quote  #22 
I'm not as big on this album as most of the posters.  I find it to be very enjoyable, though.  
I do have to say that The Like in I Love You is absolutely breathtaking!!!  
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guitarfool2002

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Reply with quote  #23 
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/see-willie-nelson-preview-gershwin-tribute-lp-with-summertime-20160119


This news just dropped earlier this week, Willie Nelson is set to release his own Gershwin tribute album called "Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin" in February. Willie's album covers both brothers George and Ira, where Brian's was specific to George.

I think this will be a terrific bookend to Brian's album, and worth playing side-by-side for comparison. What I find is that common thread running through Gershwin, Nelson, and Wilson...they are true American originals, and each brought a highly unique, original, and even offbeat musical outlook that was at times very against the grain of what was popular, yet each managed to carve out a place in music history where the term "legendary" would apply.

Willie's version of Warmth Of The Sun on the BB's country album was the keeper, the jewel of that album in my opinion. He interpreted that song in a way that only Willie Nelson could do, and it's no surprise Brian was insistent on getting Willie Nelson on board before doing that project.

There is no one that does what Willie Nelson does, there is no one that does what Brian Wilson does...they are true originals who have a "sound" that people can never replicate because it's so damn unique. To have both musicians of that caliber paying tribute to the music of Gershwin (or in Willie's case, the Gershwins), I think this is a great opportunity for fans of today and in future generations to have a chance to hear what each musician brings to a song, and to hear what made them such originals in the history of music. To have it centered around the music of Gershwin, another true original who had his own sometimes unorthodox ideas of how to write and arrange popular music...this will be very welcome.

I thought the timing of this topic here, the discussion of Brian's Gershwin tribute, and now word that Willie Nelson is releasing his own tribute, was pretty cool.

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guitarfool2002

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Reply with quote  #24 
Concurrent with the Gershwin album...there was this appearance on The Tonight Show and this backstage footage including the band going through "They Can't Take That Away From Me"...which I think Brian was right about 100% - This was a hit single waiting to happen. I love the pure joy and the elements of Brian Wilson that got put into this groove, that classic BW shuffle. Hearing it live, at a rehearsal, this rocks.

(Brian's reply to Mark: "Who in the hell said that?"...classic Brian!)


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HAL2591

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Reply with quote  #25 
Guitarfool, your mention of Brian getting to put his own "stamp" on this music is spot on. I think the song he is most successful at that is 'Nothing But Love' - he perfectly melded the soul of Gershwin and his own style together...and it created a song unlike any other Brian has done. 'Nothing But Love' has beautiful Gerswhin-esque melodies and chords, but Brian takes it to a whole other place.

During my research for this thread, I came across an interview where Brian is adamantly saying that 'Rhapsody In Blue' is rock and roll; he starts singing the melody, drumming his hands to a beat to illustrate his point. I think it's easy for Brian to pick up on things that aren't totally obvious to the average person (such as there being a rock-n-roll vibe in Rhapsody)...he's able to take that intuition and use it to his full advantage.

In this case, he took a short piano Gershwin composition and turned it into a perfect 3 minute pop/rock song. His "stamp" on these songs is something we should all be thankful for.

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ray lawlor

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Reply with quote  #26 
Guitarfool, that is such a great video of Brian and the band , I had never seen it before. HAL, I love this thread, the Gershwin album is way up there for me. One of the side elements I found intriguing was how closely Brian worked with Paul Von Mertens, who did all the charts ( I think that is the correct word ! ) for this album. The band would get their sheets from Paul , run a take and then Brian would start revamping things, it was magical to watch. Also left unsaid is that this is incredibly difficult music to play, in a totally different genre and this band knocked it out of the park. Another great headphone experience! So many great moments on this record. Listen to the harmony break on "Nothing But Love". Or the fade of "Someone to Watch Over Me"; the way the harmonies come in like waves; that's Nicky Wonder singing that last bass note each line. " S'Wonderful " simply destroys me, that whole "Belafonte on Bellagio" vibe that started with Busy Doing Nothing . I think my favorite might be "Our Love is Hear to Stay " , the vocal , the theremin in the break with shimmering backgrounds from the band.Brian's vocal arrangements are superb on this entire record and his leads are some of my favorites of his entire solo career. Oh yeah, I love Gershwin too !
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guitarfool2002

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Reply with quote  #27 
I love the way the band played that song in that video...and just a soundcheck/rehearsal! Pure spirit and energy, terrific arrangement. This music is very challenging to play, and they as usual knocked it out of the park.

I wish I had been able to see the Gershwin tour but unfortunately I just couldn't swing it due to a number of issues at the time. Anyone else who did see that tour, please chime in with memories!

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Summer Days

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Reply with quote  #28 
I saw Gershwin live in 2011 at Wolftrap, BW sang his ass off!
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HAL2591

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Reply with quote  #29 
Ray, great to hear your thoughts on this album! Must've been something unearthly special to see Brian work his magic on this record firsthand.

Do you remember any moments in the studio when you couldn't believe what you were hearing? Any magical "holy sh*t" moments when the music came through the monitors?

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Jeremy L

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Reply with quote  #30 
   The Gershwin album is near the top of my favorite Brian solo albums list.   It's very good.
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